It’s here. The big one we’ve all been waiting for. However, now that it’s here, maybe it isn’t quite as big as originally thought. Not for Clemson anyways.
All things considered, all the pressure is on Notre Dame. They are at home, facing a severely undermanned Clemson team, and yet they are still underdogs. Oh, and they are 1-19 against Top-5 opponents in the last two decades.
Prior to the season, most assumed this would be a playoff elimination game, but with Notre Dame eligible for the ACC Championship Game and with the way things have played out, that’s not really the case. Both teams could lose this one and still get in. Having said that, if Notre Dame can’t beat this Clemson team without many of its top players, at home, what makes anyone think they can beat a healthy Clemson team in Charlotte?
This Notre Dame offense starts and stops with its running game. The Irish are rushing for 231 yards a game and running back Kyren Williams is leading the charge averaging right at 100 yards per game. Freshman Chris Tyree has also been really good backing Williams up, averaging close to 7 YPC.
The Tigers must slow down this Notre Dame running game and make Ian Book beat them with his arm. And they will have to do it without Tyler Davis. The Irish offense is fairly one dimensional and I would not bet against Brent Venables coming up with a scheme that puts all the pressure all on Book.
The Clemson secondary has been prone to giving up the big play in the passing game at times but overall have been fairly solid. I just don’t think Book and those receivers can make enough plays to win this game.
That also includes the elite tight end Michael Mayer, who leads Notre Dame in catches. While tight ends have given Venables defenses fits in the past, that hasn’t been the case this season. The Tigers have neutralized some pretty good tight ends and I think they do it again this weekend, even without Mike Jones Jr.
On offense, this one is all about freshman phenom DJ Uiagalelei. The former five star looked every bit as good as advertised last weekend against BC, but that was at home. Can he do the same, on the road, at Notre Dame. The answer is yes, he absolutely can. No moment seems to big for this kid.
The Notre Dame secondary has been really good but it has been against subpar competition. Can they slow down Amari Rodgers and these Tiger receivers, which now includes running back Travis Etienne, who has been killing teams catching passes out of the backfield. Don’t count on it.
Even missing so many players, the Tigers still hold a talent advantage at almost every spot on the field. Offensive line is where the Irish hold a decided advantage, but again, we are talking about defensive mastermind Brent Venables. He will have a solid plan.
Clemson has more team speed, better coaches and with Uiagalelei, they have the better player at the most important position on the field. Even if he’s inexperienced. Oh, and they have that guy named Travis Etienne.
This is the kind of game that Clemson shines in. Marquee matchup, on the road and in primetime, you know Dabo Swinney will have his guys ready. Although, with so many players being injured, this one may end up being closer than it otherwise might have been, but Clemson still wins and they will cover the spread.
Clemson 28 Notre Dame 20
Freddie Huth (Contributor): As if it needed it, this matchup got even more interesting when Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney announced that quarterback Trevor Lawrence would not be available due to Covid protocol. Lawrence will be on the sidelines but DJ Uiagalelei, who looked almost perfect in his first start, will get the second start of his college career. The Tiger offense can expect the Fighting Irish to stack the box in an attempt to stop Travis Etienne and force Uiagalelei to beat them with the pass. It wouldn’t be surprising to see more quarterback run by Clemson in this game due to that.
This Notre Dame team has had the best offensive line in the country to this point in the season and when you add in all of the injuries that the Tiger defense has right now it will be expected that they will try to get there running game going early. For this to happen they will need quarterback Ian Book to hit some passes to soften the middle of the defense up. This one is expected to be a huge one and I look for this game to be much better than the other Top-10 matchup the Tigers had earlier this season. When it is all said and done. I expect it to live up to the hype and Clemson to come out on top by a touchdown.
Clemson 34 Notre Dame 27
Over in our Facebook group we got some of your predictions to. Not one person is picking the upset.
Will Smith 23-14
Angela Smith Huber 21-7
Buddy Atkinson 35-31
Julie Zanetti 21-10
Jeremy Helmick 27-13
Robbie Posey 34-23
Adam Hitt 34-13
Hunter Karup 28-17
John Bowen 30-24
Debra McCall 36-13
Joey Rogers 42-21
On top of his new “Let It Fly” show, former Clemson Tiger Terrence Oglesby has a new ACC Basketball Preview now available for purchase. Click here to order your copy today. Use the coupon code “clemsonjunkies” for 10% of of your purchase!